Today I taught a mini achievement badge at a Pony Club rally. Despite being surprisingly tiring, intense, and noisy, it provided me with a lot of entertainment!
As I just mentioned, it was a mini achievement badge … I think you can imagine the children. They were mini!
Firstly, I taught a group of five girls of varying ages and abilities. The smallest had an angel of a pony who needed slight encouragement from me to trot around the outside while his rider wobbled in her rising trot. The most confident girl had a whizzy pony and an attention span of a mouse on a hot plate … she was my lead file, so you can imagine the GPS errors we had. Then I also had a worried girl with a fab pony (I did ask if I could borrow her, and she said no). Another little girl with no fears, but a veteran pony who was practically automatic; and then a tolerant Welshie who`s rider flapped a bit and gazed into the distance.
With this rabble, I managed to get them trotting in a ride and riding E to B, or vice versa, between some poles. They had to focus a bit here, but it also checked that they were preparing to turn. Confident girl and whizzy pony turned at the last second; wobbly rider was carried through by her pony; automatic veteran found the poles herself, and after about six tries each rider passed successfully through the poles – in trot! So I moved onto their individual exercise; transitions between the poles! This occupied them for a while, and they all managed to ride walk and halt transitions between the poles. The automatic pony made me laugh because it was almost as though she had understood my instructions, she was so precise!
The girls were better by the end, and we`d established sitting trot into the downwards transitions, and they all prepared for the exercise instead of trotting off and then gathering their reins!
I had just about mastered the names of the children and ponies, and we began stable management. Here, I was joined by four boys and they all took their hats off! I was so confused!
To add insult to injury, a mother presented her twin boys; “Fred and George; Fred is wearing the jacket” she said. Okay, they weren`t Fred and George but they were carrot-topped like the infamous Weasley brothers. Anyway, thirty seconds later, Fred had taken off his jacket …
We were learning about rugs and boots today, so I started telling the children about rugs. I like to be interactive when doing stable management, so they called out the names of rugs and we discussed what they were used for. One kid said “fleece rug”.
I nodded and then asked if anyone knew what a fleece rug was used ofr. In a deadly serious voice, the youngest girl explained that “a fleece rug was used to stop fleas jumping off our ponies and biting us when we groom them”. It took all my concentration not to laugh at this perfectly logical explanation.
We progressed noisily through the boots and rugs I had; the children eagerly trying them on the poor pony. Imagine it; ten children hanging off this pony; hugging it`s neck, fastening buckles, stroking the abundant tail, sitting underneath (I hurriedly pulled this child out), and putting six boots on four legs. We managed, eventually, to put on all the items onto the pony, take them off, name them, and give the reasons for using them.
My next mission was to teach the four boys on their ponies. I had no hope telling Fred and George apart now … especially as they both had grey ponies! In fact, all four boys had grey ponies. The boys weren`t as competent as the girls; for a start they were much younger at only four and five years old. Still mastering their rising trot, I kept them all on lead rein and we did lots of arm exercising whilst trotting – including the ever hilarious, “heads, shoulders, knees and hips” which got the boys giggling away. By the end, though the boys were much less reliant on their reins whilst trotting.
All in all it was an exciting afternoon, and I`m now ready for a summer of Pony Club rallies and camps!